Monday, September 08, 2014

Whatsapp and Education - is it feasible?

Social networks have surely opened up new ways of communication, new opportunities of interaction and collaboration, and teachers can take advantage of these tools by including them into their lesson plans. 

One of the most popular social networks nowadays is WhatsApp. It is basically an instant messaging application for smart phones. Everyone uses it, everyone has it. Many times, teachers can see students' phones constantly receiving WhatsApp messages or notifications during classes. In addition to text messaging, users can send each other images, videos, and audio messages.

We believe that the use of WhatsApp might encourage students to get more engaged in their own learning process, which might lead to a better long-term retention of structures and vocabulary. Teachers are able to work with all four skills, and should consider designing different tasks and activities in order to cater various learning styles.

Thus, to improve reading skills, the teacher can send the group a text (i.e. a short story). Then, as a follow-up, the teacher can ask comprehension questions about it , and also questions on specific vocabulary presented in the text. It is also possible to ask students to come up with a different endings for the story they've read.

Teachers can also create several writing activities by proposing a topic for discussion, for instance. Students can also write descriptions of a place, based on an image sent by the teacher. 


An interesting function in this application is voice recording to practice speaking skills. Students can record their voices to present their ideas/opinions about a certain topic, or answer specific questions based on a text or image sent by the teacher. Furthermore, the teacher can also record his voice and send to the student and work on listening comprehension. There is also the possibility of sending a video and then ask questions about it. 

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Some practical examples now.

1. I designed two slides on PowerPoint and saved them as images. Then, I sent them to students and asked them to perform a simple task: write sentences using the passive voice.

       







2. This is another very simple activity that can be done using WhatsApp. I used it with a group of teenagers to practice adjectives. After having explained the meaning of the adjectives from the lesson, I made a numbered list of the adjectives on the board. I, then, asked them to pick up their cell phones and log into our WhatsApp group. I gave them 3 minutes to find an emoticon for each adjective from the board. They would have to make the whole list and only hit send when they had finished. The following class we performed the activity a bit differently. First, I sent the adjective and they had to find an emoticon to show they remembered its meaning. Finally, I sent the emoticon and the students had to type the adjective (in order to practice spelling).  It became a competition. We had a blast!













        3. Another activity I developed using emoticons was concerning 'if clauses'. I prepared the if clause in advance and the main clause should be provided by the students. However, they had to create this main clause using a key word that I provided using and emoticon. For example: "If I get a book on my birthday, :) ". They were supposed to say something like "I will be happy."  Although I included the emoticon to control their answers, they had different and funny ideas.













       4. This activity was done with an advanced group. I just wanted to check their pronunciation of certain words. I sent the word to the group and they had to send the a recording of their voice pronouncing the word.


















5. A PIECE OF ME FOR SALE
Ask students to choose an object they own to put up for sale. They got to take a picture of the chosen object and add a description saying the story behind it and why it is special for them. Students can then bid on each others items and justify why they'd want to buy a certain object and not the other. I have used this activity in class with my 5B group and it has worked quite well. 

6. ADJECTIVE TREE
This is a fun game which  can be done with any group or age. Teacher starts the game by saying a random adjective, for example the color "red". Then students have to type up as many combinations as possible using the word red. Ex. red lipstick, red light, red dress.

7. I'M TENSE
As the title already gives away, it's a verb tense game. Teacher starts by typing up a verb in the base form and students gotta type it up in the past simple or past participle. Students can also join in adding verbs and competing amongst themselves. The points can double when the teacher adds a talking face Emoji and the students record a voice message pronouncing the word accurately. 

8. RIGHT OR WRONG?
The teacher send a sentence and students have to decide if its right or wrong. That can also be done to practice pronunciation. 

9. WHAT - WHO AM I?
Teacher sends part of a picture (you can easily use your own phone's camera to take a picture of a pic) then students have to guess wha or who it is by saying "It might/can't/may/could/must be..." . It's great to practice modals. 

10. WHAT DID YOU ASK?
The teacher writes the answer to a question and students have to guess what question was asked. Ex. Answer: Hardly ever. Possible questions: How often do you...? Do you still see each other? Do you go dancing? Did you use to go to the beach? etc...

11. SING ALONG
The players send part of a song and the others have to sing the following bit. 

12. PHRASAL VERBS
The game starts with a description of a phrasal verb and students have to write a sentence using the corresponding phrasal verb. Extra points if they know if its separable, inseparable or always separated. 

13. STORY TIME
One assigned student at a time has to to narrate (using the voice message) an impromptu  part of a story using the words the teacher types up. The other assigned students follow the story line trying to give sequence to it. Ex. Anna - gold, chest, gun, shoot, man, get away. Pedro - robber, blue eyed, charming, laughter, dream. etc. 



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Have you tried using this app with your students? If not, would you be willing to give it a try? Let us know about your outcomes! 

Cheers,


        Paola Hanna                      Tatiana Severo                  Lilian Marchesoni
 





5 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing such interesting, motivating activities. Technological resources students use every day and truly be useful for educational purposes and you showed us how.

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  2. Thanks for the feedback, Isabela! Sharing is caring! :)

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. This post is very amazing and I also use WhatsApp and I think that you did an excellent job by sharing this post.
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  5. I love WhatsApp and I can't live without this App
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